For most of LSU’s success in the last month, it’s been the identity of the offense that’s been the main storyline, but against the Razorbacks, it was the defensive domination that led to the Tigers’ victory. Led by the stellar performance of linebacker Harold Perkins, who, after the game, Kelly had a hard time trying to find the right superlatives to describe his play, this Tigers defense limited a top 15 offense in terms of yards to just 249 total between the ground and the run.
The pressure applied by the front seven is perhaps the single most dominant performance of any position group in any game all season and was the fuel behind a game where LSU didn’t get much help from the recently red hot offense. But to Kelly’s point, pulling out a game where one part of the team isn’t clicking and still finding a path to success is part of learning to win.
After the game, there was also a recognition that this team isn’t close to being a complete team and it wasn’t the way LSU has been preparing on the offensive side of the ball. Daniels and the passing attack mustered 86 yards through the air and if not for Josh Williams and the running game, the offense would’ve been non-existent.
That goes back to the blocking up front, penalties, early turnovers, Daniels’ aggression and of course, the gameplan, which Kelly said after the game LSU had a hard time adjusting to in the second half. This group will get a get right game at home against UAB before traveling to College Station for the final game of the year to keep its college football playoff hopes alive.
Despite the struggles, the most important aspect is this team finding a way to win in the face of adversity.
“You still have to find ways to make plays and win these games at the end. We’re far from a finished product. I don’t think anybody’s in there feeling like we’ve arrived,” Kelly said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do but during this journey we’re still finding ways to win football games.”
A 13-10 victory followed by an Alabama win over Ole Miss later in the day, put the finishing touches on LSU winning the SEC West and securing a trip to the SEC Championship in the first year of Kelly’s tenure. Teaching this group how to win at this time of the year has been arguably the greatest lesson these players have picked up on and as a result, LSU is enduring the most success it’s had in three years.
“They know how to win football games and that’s a great trait to have. They believe they’re gonna win and they find a way to win and this is a perfect example of that,” Kelly said.
“I’m proud of our guys having the mental toughness to battle and find a way to win a football game and challenged the way we were today,” Kelly said. “I’m not sitting here disappointed, I’m excited we won the football game in a very difficult environment. We’re being hunted and we’re gonna get everybody’s best shot. They understand that. We’ve got some things to work on but we’ll enjoy this victory.”